Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle factors

There is no proven method of preventing breast cancer. However, there are some lifestyle factors that have been scientifically shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer. Talk to your family doctor if you have any concerns about the points below. 


Body weight

  • Keeping a healthy weight is important.
  • If you are post menopausal, breast cancer risk increases with your increasing weight.

Recommendation: Eat a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables.


Physical activity

  • Women who do regular exercise have a lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who do not exercise.

Recommendation: Do 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least five days a week.


Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

  • HRT may be prescribed for the relief of troublesome menopausal symptoms. For these women, the benefits to their quality of life by taking HRT may outweigh the risks.
  • Long term (>5 years) use of combined HRT (estrogen and progestogen) increases the risk of breast cancer. Combined HRT may also increase mammographic density which is a risk factor for breast cancer, and can make mammogram interpretation more difficult.
  • The risk of breast cancer decreases within five years of stopping HRT, back to the level of women who have never used HRT.

Recommendation: It is important to discuss the use of HRT with your doctor.



  • Drinking alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer.

Recommendation: Keep your alcoholic drinks to no more than two standard drinks* a day. Aim to have one or two alcohol-free days every week.

* 285ml of full strength beer 4.8% alc.vol. = one standard drink

* 150ml glass of red or white wine = approximately one and a half standard drinks

* 30ml shot of spirit 40% alc.vol. = one standard drink

Last Updated: 07/08/2014